The deal ends months of squabbles between Republicans and Democrats over the nature and size of legislation designed to help the country overcome a pandemic that has killed more than 317,000 Americans, infected millions and shut down dozens of businesses. Congress has not adopted a comprehensive aid package since March. As the number of cases increased and the benefits decreased, Democrats and Republicans were unable to agree on another deal. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate proposed their own versions of the bill, only to be rejected by the other side. What is included in the help package? Here`s the money, the benefits you and your family can get? The impending recovery plan is expected to include a new round of funding for the paycheck protection program, which has been the subject of significant controversy over granting state aid to large companies, as well as targeted relief to other struggling sectors of the economy. It will also include $300 a week in additional federal benefits for more than 10 million unemployed Americans, according to Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), the Republican senator`s No. 2. McConnell hailed the “bipartisan breakthrough,” saying the bill must be finalized and, unless there are “last-minute hurdles,” move through the House of Representatives and Senate before President Donald Trump can sign it. Both chambers are expected to debate and vote on the package on Monday. The impending package is expected to include hundreds of billions of dollars in aid for struggling small businesses and unemployed Americans; Tens of billions of dollars in aid for other critical needs, such as the distribution of vaccines and schools; and a one-time check between $600 and $700 for millions of Americans below a certain income limit. Food aid. The agreement is expected to increase the benefits of food stamps (Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program or NPAS). It would also extend the pandemic EBT programme to families with children in daycare and support the Special Supplementary Nutrition Programme for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) so that participants can purchase additional fruits and vegetables.
Seniors are also included, with funding for seniors` nutrition services, including Meals on Wheels, and the Supplementary Food Program to provide food boxes for seniors. Liability protection. Protecting corporate liability due to the pandemic has been a serious stumbling block between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The framework had initially suggested that there was “a restriction in principle as a basis for good faith negotiations,” but it remained stalled. The deal is also expected to provide billions of dollars for vaccine screening, tracing and distribution, as well as $82 billion for colleges and schools, $13 billion for increased food aid, $7 billion for broadband access and $25 billion for rent subsidies. The agreement is also expected to extend a moratorium on evictions that expires at the end of the year. “We have now agreed on a bill that will crush the virus and put money in the pockets of struggling working families,” President Nancy Pelosi wrote Sunday in a letter to Democrats detailing some details of the measure. “This emergency aid law is an important first step.” A compromise proposal made earlier this month by Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Joe Manchin III (D-W. Go.) under other centrist lawmakers, 16 weeks of unemployment benefits would have been provided for instead of the 11 weeks provided for in the current agreement.
It was unclear why congressional leaders shortened the duration of unemployment benefits in their latest agreement compared to the lawmakers` bipartisan plan. At the heart of the breakthrough was a mutual agreement to abandon critical priorities approved by one party and hated by the other: a Democratic push to establish a direct flow of money for state and local governments short of financial resources, and a Republican call for comprehensive corporate liability protection measures, hospitals and other institutions opened during the pandemic. It was expected that the legislative push would include various other priorities unrelated to the aid program. In addition to the $900 billion bill, lawmakers are expected to approve $1.4 trillion to fund federal agencies; Tens of billions of dollars in extensions to expiring tax provisions; numerous trade regulations; and a bipartisan energy bill drafted by Manchin and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), among other possible measures. For a Congress plagued by legislative paralysis in recent years, the measure of spending includes a remarkable number of important policy initiatives. It includes a ban on surprising medical bills that occur when patients are unexpectedly picked up by an external healthcare provider. Instead of sending these fees to patients, hospitals and doctors now have to work with health insurers to pay the bills. There is no text available yet (I will post a link when it is available), but based on stakeholder reports, here is a brief overview of what was likely included in the bill – and what was not. Note that this could change as there has not yet been a vote, with Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promising to do so as soon as possible (I will update when I have more details). Democrats declared victory by keeping top Republican priorities such as protecting COVID-19 liability for schools and businesses out of the package, though they were also unable to secure one of their top priorities for helping state and local governments.